A mother's instinct is to protect, nurture and take care of every need for her children. We remember how we were taught, cared for and, most of all, chastised, how we felt and how we decided what we would or wouldn't do with our own children, when the time came.
I remember bragging about you, Mama.
“Are you hungry?” Grandma hollered from the kitchen. I was still in the doorway knocking the snow off my boots, but I knew not to bother with an answer, as she would already have the table set when I walked in. That's just the way it was with her. You may have come in with no intention of eating, but you always left with a full stomach. At any given time there would be multiple pies or loaves of bread cooling on the counter, the smell alone assured that even the shortest of visits was always accompanied with food. Everyone who knew her could tell you a story about Mary’s baked beans—a staple at every family potluck. I always had a little scoop, even though I wasn’t keen on beans, because Grandma had a sweetness about her that you simply couldn’t say no to.
My grandmother, whom I called Nonna, which is Italian for grandmother, passed away this summer on June 22, 2017.
On Tuesday, August 1, 2000, 17,469 people walked into Oakland Stadium to watch the hometown Athletics take on the Toronto Blue Jays. The Athletics were two years away from the famous, or infamous, Moneyball years and the Jays were seven years removed from their back to back World Series titles. While the A’s would go on to win 97 games that year and win the AL West, little suggested that either of these teams were a World Series contender. And so I didn’t bother turning on the game. I was slightly preoccupied.
I often think about the words that we have left unsaid. Like a burning on the edge of our tongues, we long to say it, but we fear the hurt that may follow. If we always said how we really felt and not filter it based on the person, what would be the response? We hide behind words that are meaningless and empty, while our hearts ache in pain.
Life; one word that can mean so many things. It can mean what you have done in your life or it can mean just living in general; being able to breathe, being able to feel. We forget just how precious life is and what it can mean to us. We go on, day by day, feeling like we are on top of the world and nothing can stop us. Go on feeling invincible and strong. We never think about what might happen in the afterlife or how we might die. We never take the time to hug our loved ones and tell them how much we love them. What if something happened to them? What if they left and never came back? What if they just become another Angel in heaven? Well I lost someone very dear to me and I wish I got to spend more time with him and tell him that he is the strongest person I have ever known. My Grandpa.
A new favorite song of mine is "Pray"by Sam Smith. I don't know if you've heard it or not, but if you haven't you definitely need to. He sings about how he doesn't go to church and that he's never believed in it all, but that he is still a disciple of the Lord and he needs his help. He sings about how everyone prays in the end and I couldn't find a more true statement.
On the 21st of December, as I rushed out the front doors of my now deserted dormitory, army duffle of laundry slung over my shoulders, the cold Milwaukee slush sloshing beneath my boots, into my family's old Saturn Vue to catch a ride home for Christmas Break, the last thing on my mind was the possibility that I might lose a loved one. Less than 24 hours later, Ernie Varga went into cardiac arrest for the final time as I drove that same car at unsafe speeds towards Rockford in an attempt to see him before his passing. I didn't make it. The next few days register in my memory like some kind of stereo cassette tape where periodically the right or left channel simply cuts out. I can remember bursts of memory in fine clear detail, the tick of the clock on Ehorn-Adams funeral home wall, the way the mortician's hands moved over the paperwork, the colors of every casket along that wall and their prices. There are other moments in which I hardly remember any sensory input, just emotion, a sort of unstable feeling, as though I'd been standing on a floor which simply ceased to exist, only to reveal another floor an inch or so below it.
They tell me that war changes men, makes them wild. That's only the weak ones, though. He was sad when it was unavoidable, happy when it was ended. A lifetime of harsh realities, defeated by laughter. Memories depart quickly, but I always feel at home there.
At the young age of 26, I am a survivor. A survivor or many things such as cancer, life, and daily struggles just to get by. The past 4 years I have been surviving life. Barely getting by, and struggling to what seems like no end in sight. I lost my great grandma about four years ago and this year August 2017, I lost my grandma.